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Terry Fontenot details why Matt Ryan is 'the right leader of this team'

Falcons GM is both supremely confident in Ryan and always on the quarterback hunt

Atlanta Falcons Terry Fontenot smiles during organized team activities in Phase III of the Atlanta Falcons offseason program on May 26, 2021.
Atlanta Falcons Terry Fontenot smiles during organized team activities in Phase III of the Atlanta Falcons offseason program on May 26, 2021.

Terry Fontenot has extensively seen Matt Ryan work, most of the time from a distance. Viewings have always come either in person or on tape, always during the course of a game.

Becoming Falcons general manager gave him access to a lot more. It enriched his understanding of the Falcons quarterback and what makes him tick, allowing Fontenot to see Ryan in great depth.

Fontenot liked what he learned, which gave him confidence in staying the course at quarterback.

He and head coach Arthur Smith didn't draft one over seven rounds. Adding veteran backup A.J. McCarron and an undrafted prospect Feleipe Franks didn't create serious competition.

Ryan remains the Falcons undisputed signal caller, ready to captain them through another campaign.


Fontenot explained why he feels great about that fact during an exclusive interview with, and it's about more than what's available on NFL Game Pass.

"On the outside you just have the game tape," Fontenot said. "Being inside the building, you also see the practice tape and the human element. Being around Matt, you see who he is as the leader, the worker, where his mindset is and how he feels he has a chip on his shoulder and that he has something to prove. Knowing not just that he has the physical talent to do it, but that he has the right mindset to be the same leader of men. That passion you see on the sidelines -- when you're in the building with him you see it 24/7. It doesn't stop. It really doesn't stop.

"The film evaluation, whether it's in a game or in practice, shows where he is. So does the mindset, the passion, the intensity that makes him the man that he is. It checks all the boxes. He's the right leader of this team."

Head coach Arthur Smith also considers Ryan the right leader of his offense. As conveyed to our Steve Wyche, Smith took an empirical approach to all the recent tape available and came away confident Ryan still has it.

"You've got to be objective when reviewing the film to see where Ryan] is at in his career," [Smith told Wyche. "He is still playing at a high level."

That's a plus, considering the Falcons are essentially locked into Ryan for a season or, far more likely, two. The association might last longer if he thrives in Smith's system moving forward, playing as well as he has in the past.

Fontenot and Smith are committed to strengthening the team around Ryan, to give the quarterback and the Falcons the best chance to win every week and spark a competitive renaissance.

Even if all goes as planned and Ryan's excellent and Falcons fortunes improve, the Boston College product won't play forever. New quarterbacks will come aboard and be evaluated in person to see if they're the right fit. Quarterback hunts are always happening, as they should be in any good personnel department, even with the Falcons confident in the passers already on the roster.

"We like our quarterback room, but we're always going to be looking," Fontenot said. "Whether it's this year or next year, in the draft or through trades, we're always going to be looking to bring in quarterbacks. That doesn't change at all. Just because you don't take one in the first round doesn't mean you can't find the right future guy.

"But, with all that being said, we hope that future is way down the road. If you're talking to Matt, he's going to say, 'Slow down. I've got lots of time left.'"

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London #5 during team practice at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

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